Digital skills are more important than ever – they’re essential for everything from business to education, especially with the moving to work and school remotely due to COVID. However, our increased reliance on the Internet for communication and access to services and information has created more opportunities for malicious cybercriminals to exploit vulnerable organizations and individuals.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the multitude of ways cybercriminals can exploit national and global crises – these range from mass phishing campaigns to compromised business emails and ransomware. All sectors of the Australian economy have been affected by cybercrime – most recently seen in the Loj4j Vulnerability which targeted and compromised systems globally and in Australia.
In fact, the Australian Cybersecurity Center Cyber Threat Report 2020-21 reveals that 67,500 cybercrimes took place during the assessed period, an increase of almost 13% over the previous year. Disturbingly, the report also found that 25% of cyber incidents were associated with Australia’s critical infrastructure or essential services, including the healthcare, food distribution and energy sectors. These massive infrastructure attacks, or MIAs, emphasize the likely increase in disruption to essential services, loss of revenue, and the potential for damage or loss of life.
Cybercriminals have also taken advantage of the COVID-19 situation by targeting digitally accessible information or services. Spear phishing emails were commonly used to coerce recipients into entering personal information to access COVID-related information or services. Australia’s healthcare sector has been a key target, with malicious actors seeking to access sensitive information about Australia’s COVID response and leveraging critical services for ransomware attacks. In March 2021, a ransomware attack on a Victorian public health unit affected four hospitals and aged care facilities and led to the postponement of elective surgeries. Ransomware attacks against an Australian media company and JBS Foods further demonstrated that cybercriminals are moving away from minor attacks to coercing exorbitant sums from large or large organizations.
These changes in targeting and tactics have increased the threat to the security of Australian organizations across all sectors, including critical infrastructure. Now more than ever, innovative private-public retraining and education solutions are needed, given the severity of the skills crisis and the pace of change. Strengthening a skills development ecosystem with the participation of educators and employers would catalyze the e-skills revolution that Australia urgently needs.
Such an ecosystem approach is Cyber STEP2, a $3,777,795 million national partnership program between Grok Academy, the Australian Government (the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources and the Australian Directorate of Signals) and industry (ANZ, CBA, NAB, Westpac, BT, Amazon Web Services and Fifth Domain). This initiative, the largest of its kind in Australia, will see advanced cybersecurity taught to students in grades 7-12 and will, for the first time in Australia, also be available for TAFEs, other RTOs and universities to use. in their introduction to cybersecurity. safety course.
This cross-sector partnership underscores the vital need for schools, government and the Australian business sector to work together to address the immediate skills shortage, while fostering a longer-term culture of cybersecurity within the Australian education system and of the future workforce. According to AustCyber’s Cybersecurity Sector Competitiveness Plan, Australia will need an additional 18,000 cybersecurity workers by 2026. Cyber STEP2 will therefore play a vital role in the interest of Australian students in pursuing studies and careers in cybersecurity.
It is essential to Australia’s long-term economic prosperity and security that we develop a highly skilled and educated workforce in cybersecurity, and that we ensure that all students, parents and teachers across the country have access to resources. Areas of opportunity and improvement can be defined by investments in retraining and preparing the new workforce for the demands of high-demand entry-level positions. As growth and reskilling become a heightened priority, Australia aims to close cybersecurity gaps and adapt to the new era of technology and digital skills.
Cyber STEP2‘ first cybersecurity challenge, cyber livewill launch on March 16, 2022, and students across the country will have the chance to experience a full-scale cyber attack and work to thwart a simulated and dramatic “MIA” on multiple military and civilian targets. cyber live will enable students to combat a multitude of cyberattacks ranging from social engineering and steganography, to cracking encryption, circumventing authorization measures, and intercepting network transmissions. Teachers and parents are encouraged to register their students for this unique and important cybersecurity event.